MAYWOOD, IL – Four-year-old Ellie Garcia's recent battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia will make this year's Loyola Medicine 5K especially poignant for her family.
Ellie and her family and friends will be among the expected 2,000 runners and walkers at the seventh annual Loyola Medicine 5K Run/Walk for Pediatric Care and Research on Sunday, June 3, at 7:30 am at Brookfield Zoo.
Ellie, who lives in Chicago's Garfield Ridge community, was born at Loyola and has been a patient ever since. In January, she began experiencing recurrent fevers. Her pediatrician ordered additional testing and she was diagnosed with leukemia the same day. After four months of treatment, Ellie is in remission and continues to undergo interim maintenance chemotherapy.
"I have so much love for what Loyola has done for Ellie," said Teresa Contreras, Ellie's mother. "I knew she was in good hands at Loyola when she was diagnosed.
As a way to help children like Ellie, the Garcias have formed Team Super EllieBelly, which includes Ellie's father, a two-year-old sister and an 11-year-old brother. The family participated in the 5K a few years ago prior to Ellie's diagnosis, but they said this walk will be special after everything Ellie has been through.
"The race is a good opportunity to come together and show support not just for Ellie but all the kids who are at Loyola," Ms. Contreras said. "Before, participating in the race was about a good feeling of giving back. Now we have seen the impact of Loyola's work on families like ours."
Registration for the 5K includes admission to the zoo, parking, a race T-shirt and other giveaways. A post-race party begins at 8:30 am.
The Loyola Medicine 5K helps support pediatric programs at Loyola University Health System, including a 98-bed, full-service children's hospital. The hospital-within-a-hospital consists of:
- A 50-bed Level III neonatal intensive care unit
- A 14-bed pediatric intensive care unit designed with the latest technology and family amenities
- 34 general pediatric beds
- A monitored unit for infants and toddlers
As a Level III Perinatal Center, Loyola offers the latest technology, therapies and techniques and serves as a national model for specialized protocols and practices in the care of premature infants. Loyola cares for more than 300 critically ill newborns each year.
Brookfield Zoo is located at 8400 W. 31st Street, Brookfield, Illinois. Free parking will be available near the north gate.